Image courtesy Creative Commons
Remember Robot Wars?
People got together in basements and garages and built impressive robots that were generally souped up with hammers and saws and the occasional flamethrower. Then, they put their creations in a caged arena and proceeded to smash the crap out of each other’s robot.
It was sort of a Ultimate Fighting Championship for nerds.
You probably thought that as an investor, you’re safe from the threat (or opportunity) of being pummeled by a robot.
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After suffering with an incredibly slow laptop for a few years, I finally decided to upgrade the hard drive to a SSD. SSD’s are pretty cool because they are an application of Accelerating Technology that directly affects our computing lives.
Access Times with Old Hard Drive
My laptop is pretty old (maybe 3 years), made by Sony, and was never fast to begin with. I cleaned it out and defragmented it, but it was always slow. Starting up seemed to take forever. And working with Visual Studio was slow and frustrating. Even browsing the internet (on Chrome!) was slow for me. The hard drive above is the standard 5,400 RPM SATA drive that came with the laptop.
Was the investment worth it?
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Pic by Sammy0716 @ Flickr
Unless you lived with the Unabomber during the 1990s, you have had a taste of disruptive technology. The internet has changed how we do business, how we communicate, how we gather news and information and even how we listen to music.
Business have been created overnight. (We had a word for Twitter back before the web–it was called graffiti.
And business have gone bankrupt over night.
This isn’t anything new. With each new round of technology, we experience disruptions. Railroad, the telephone, the telegraph, the printing press, the wheel, fire–they’ve all changed our lives. But, notice I said that we have experienced a “taste” of disruption.
The next round of technology won’t change our lives; it will change life.
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Many people are quite aware of the miracle of accelerating technology. It states that there is a certain period of time where the price/performance ratio of a product doubles. And, that doubling time is getting shorter. For computers, it is down to about 1.25 years.
Computers have a relatively long history, and it is interesting to see the effect on other more recent products. Today, I checked the Amazon home page to discover that they have released Kindle 3.0.
The first version was released November 19, 2007, followed by version 2 in November 2009. So, the first version was replaced after 2 years and the second after just 8 months. That makes an average of 1.3 years per generation.
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Now I am reading The Universal History of Computing, an extremely complete and detailed account of every single computing advance in history. It is so complete that it starts with numbering systems, and the invention(!) of the number zero. Where would computers be without the zero?
ENIAC was short for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, and it was designed in 1943 and completed in 1945. That was just 65 years ago. It was the first real computer because it was completely electronic, general-purpose, and analytical.
This thing was huge, as you can probably imagine. Much bigger than the computer (or mobile device!) that you are reading this on. In fact, it took up a space 18 ft. by 36 ft. So you needed a huge room just to put it in. Besides that, it weighed 27 tons!
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I just finished reading Automatic Quantum Computer Programming and it really got me thinking about the possibilities and promise of quantum computers. For those unawares, quantum computers have the potential to revolutionize our lives as much as the digital computer has. Why? Because they can solve problems that digital computers cannot solve.
How do they do it?
Quantum computers use the characteristics built into the quantum world such as superposition and entanglement to solve these difficult problems. In an ol’ skool digital computer, each bit can only have a value of 0 or 1. However, in a quantum computer, a single quantum bit can have a value of both 0 and 1, at the same time. This is stored as a probability of being a 0 or a 1. So, while the computer that you are reading this on can only store one piece of information in a single bit, a quantum computer can store much more information in a single quantum bit. This powerful ability is known as superposition.
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Genetic Algorithms are a specific area of Artificial Intelligence that has the power to change the world. Why? Because they allow us to solve very difficult problems that have no known solutions. These problems include:
- How do you design a jet engine to optimize efficiency?
- How do you optimize the components and connections in a circuit board or chip?
- How helpful is a movie recommendation from one person for another person?
These perplexing problems have no simple solutions, and often the details of the question are unclear. Genetic Algorithms are flexible enough to give us high quality solutions to these difficult problems.
Argonne scientist Elena Rozhkova examines brain cancer cells under a microscope. (Laboratory @ Flickr)
A group of international scientists may just have given humanity a Christmas present–and taken us one more step down the path of the Singularity.
Investor’s Business Daily reports that scientists have identified all of the cell changes in two forms of cancers. The investigation has produced a complete cancer gene map.
According to most scientists, this study by international scientist and the U.K.’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is a game-changer. It’s effects could change not just cancer treatment, but could alter health care and the economy.
An effective treatment for cancer would save trillions of dollars. According to a Chicago economist, curing cancer, for example, would save $30 trillion. Just a one percent decrease in the mortality rate of cancer patients would save about $300 billion, the study adds.
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Most people are aware of how fast technology is changing. Just Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the Internet landscape in the last year. And, they have revolutionized how we connect with each other. Not just how we connect online, but how we connect in life! These two examples of technology make it super easy to connect to millions of people instantly, and for free. That’s pretty amazing.
Here is the traffic graph for Facebook from Alexa:
Facebook and Twitter make email look prehistoric. And, in Internet time, email is prehistoric. If most people started using email in 1995, when the Internet exploded, that is nearly 15 years ago. That makes it ancient history. These sites have reinvented the way we connect, but accelerating technology has not had such a powerful effect on every aspect of our lives.
Which Area of of Lives has Technology yet to Revolutionize?
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After hearing quite a bit about Google’s browser Chrome, I became curious. Is it really better than Firefox? It seems that old habits die hard, and it is pretty easy to fall into using the same browser. Finally, my curosity won out, and I downloaded and installed Chrome yesterday.
It was the first time in long time I got excited about a new software. It was unbelievable. Super fast. Intuitive. And, it worked. I went to a variety of flash and Java sites, as well as Facebook. It worked flawlessly and quickly.
Buy why is Chrome better than Firefox?
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